North Carolina woman allegedly used $ 149,000 COVID-19 business relief loan to go shopping
United States District Courts The United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina in Charlotte
A North Carolina woman reportedly used a $ 149,000 COVID-19 business relief loan to do grocery shopping for herself.
Jasmine Johnnae Clifton, 24, appeared in court on Monday after being charged with two counts of fraud for using a business that was dissolved to obtain relief funds via a loan from the Small Business Administration, according to a Release of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina.
The statement said the Charlotte resident applied for an Economic Disaster Loan (EIDL) last year – intended to help businesses affected by the ongoing crisis. Covid-19 pandemic – stating that her online clothing business, Jazzy Jas, needed help. The business, however, had in fact closed the previous year.
Clifton’s request – “which included false income information and a fraudulent tax document” – was accepted and she received assistance. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, she allegedly used the money to make purchases at various stores, including Nordstrom, Ikea, Louis Vuitton, Best Buy, etc. Clifton also allegedly made purchases at several diamond stores, the statement said.
Clifton’s public defender Nicole Lybrand did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
A grand jury previously indicted Clifton on charges of wire fraud in connection with a disaster benefit and fraud in connection with a major disaster or emergency benefits on Feb. 17, the statement said.
The woman could potentially face up to 30 years in prison for each of her charges and could be ordered to pay a fine of $ 1,000,000 for the wire fraud charge in connection with disaster compensation.
Along with major disaster or emergency benefit fraud, Clifton could also pay a fine of up to $ 250,000.
Clifton appeared in court on Monday and has since been released on bail.
The Office of the Attorney General for the Western District of North Carolina and the Department of Justice noted that they “remain vigilant in the detection, investigation and prosecution of wrongdoing related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” in the press release.